Monday, November 30, 2009

Mulch Mysteries!

If a recent stroll around your yard left you wondering if something has died in the shrubbery then your landscape may be home to a harmless fungus known as the octopus stinkhorn or dead man’s fingers (Clathrus columnatus) (image, left). This small, foul smelling mushroom is not damaging to plants, people or pets, though the smell can be overpowering and unpleasant. The octopus stinkhorn appears during mild, damp weather, such as we are currently experiencing, and is one of several types of mysterious fungi that occasionally grow in hardwood mulch or wood chips.

On the whole, wood and bark mulches are very beneficial for landscapes, conserving water, moderating soil temperature, suppressing weeds, and adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil as they break down. Mulches and soils are alive with millions of microorganisms that work to decay organic matter and release nutrients, including many types of beneficial fungi and bacteria. From time to time, some of the more noticeable of these organisms may catch a gardener’s attention and cause them to wonder about their identity.

Read the entire article from the Pender County Cooperative Extension website

Friday, November 20, 2009

Start Amaryllis Now for the Holidays and Beyond!

This beautiful red amaryllis has been forced on a special vase that allows its roots to grow down into water while supporting the bulb and holding the flower stalk upright. Whether you grow your amaryllis on a vase or in a container, now is the time to get them started for holiday blossoms. Amaryllis are extremely easy and fun to grow, for both adults and kids. And the enjoyment does not end after the holidays. Amaryllis are hardy bulbs in our area, which means you can plant your amaryllis outside in the landscape in spring, where it will blossom each spring, year after year.

Click here to read more . . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall Vegetable Garden Tips

Among the many things gardeners can do in the fall vegetable garden is keep an eye out for caterpillars, such as this cabbage looper.

Fall is a busy time in a southern vegetable garden. There are crops to be harvested, and others to be planted. Pests and weeds must be kept at bay to keep crops healthy, while soils need to be covered to prevent erosion over winter. The harvest season for some crops can be extended through the use of cold frames or floating row cover.

Learn more about what you need to do to keep your fall vegetable garden healthy and productive by reading the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website!
Click here to read more . . . .

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall and Winter Lawn Care Tips

It will soon be time to put the lawn mower away as warm season grasses go dormant for winter. In southeastern North Carolina, warm season turf grasses are the best choice for lawns. Warm season grasses are those that actively grow when soil and air temperatures are warm—in the spring, summer and fall. These include St. Augustine, zoysia, bermuda, and centipede. With the onset of frost, these grasses go dormant, or stop growing, until the following spring when soil and air temperatures warm up again. Caring for these grasses in fall and winter is simple because very little work is required. The following turf care tips will help you know what you should and should NOT do now to keep your lawn happy and healthy throughout the year.

Read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension Website.